The Waitrose ef­fect... £9 ex­tra on your shop­ping!

Daily Mail - - Confidential - By Sean Poul­ter Con­sumer Af­fairs Edi­tor s.poul­ter@dai­ly­

WAITROSE isn’t ex­actly the first place we look for bar­gains – and here’s why.

The up­mar­ket chain charges shop­pers al­most £9 more than its ri­vals do for a bas­ket of ten big brand prod­ucts, re­search has found.

The pop­u­lar items, in­clud­ing Tet­ley tea bags and McVi­tie’s ginger nut bis­cuits, cost £32.85 at Waitrose – £8.73 more than the cheap­est store in the sur­vey, Asda, at £24.12.

How­ever the next cheap­est chain – Tesco, the UK’s big­gest su­per­mar­ket – was also sig­nif­i­cantly more ex­pen­sive than Asda at £30.44, or £6.32 ex­tra. It was fol­lowed by Sains­bury’s at £30.60, Ocado at £31.49 and Mor­risons at £31.70.

The sur­vey by con­sumer group Which? did not in­clude the UK’s fastest-grow­ing chains, Aldi and Lidl, as they con­cen­trate shelf space on their own prod­ucts rather than big brands. The bud­get chains gen­er­ally come out cheaper than main­stream ri­vals in larger shop­ping trol­ley sur­veys that in­clude fruit and veg­eta­bles.

The Which? sur­vey, car­ried out us­ing the price com­par­i­son web­site My­su­per­mar­, found that the big­gest sin­gle dif­fer­ence was on 750ml of Hell­mann’s may­on­naise, which cost £2 in Asda against £4.42 in Mor­risons.

Asda, owned by US com­pany Wal­mart, proudly boasts of its Roll­back price cut­ting deals, but its ri­vals also mon­i­tor prices and change them reg­u­larly to match or beat other shops. Con­se­quently, the fig­ures charged to­day could be dif­fer­ent to those found by Which? ear­lier this month.

Harry Rose, the edi­tor of Which? Money, said gen­eral food price in­fla­tion is run­ning at 4 per cent, out­pac­ing in­creases in wages and pen­sions, which means that shop­ping around is as im­por­tant as ever. With food prices ris­ing well be­yond the gen­eral rate of in­fla­tion, we’re all look­ing for ways we can cut down on the cost of our weekly shop,’ he said.

‘There are a se­ries of mon­eysav­ing tips that can help shop­pers re­gain con­trol of their spend­ing habits, with­out com­pro­mis­ing on the qual­ity of prod­ucts we want to en­joy.’

Which? said that shop­ping on­line can help be­cause su­per­mar­kets of­ten sug­gest cheaper al­ter­na­tives to items that cus­tomers put in their vir­tual trol­leys.

It added that shop­pers should also be wary of spe­cial of­fers. Its re­search found that many ‘dis­counted’ goods had their prices in­creased im­me­di­ately be­fore they were re­duced, to make the ‘sav­ing’ more im­pres­sive.

The con­sumer group also said shop­pers should not as­sume a big brand’s prod­uct is au­to­mat­i­cally bet­ter than su­per­mar­kets’ own goods. ‘In many cases these prod­ucts are pro­duced in the same fac­tory, and some­times are iden­ti­cal to branded goods,’ it said.

‘Painkillers, for ex­am­ple, are sub­ject to strict rules gov­ern­ing the ac­tive in­gre­di­ents – our re­search found 14 dif­fer­ent pack­ets of ibupro­fen con­tain­ing iden­ti­cal caplets, but with prices rang­ing from 8p a pill to 20p.’

Which? also ad­vised shop­pers to en­sure prod­ucts have the long­est pos­si­ble ‘use by’ dates.

This en­sures they are not thrown out un­eaten, caus­ing shop­pers to ef­fec­tively pay twice when they’re re­placed.

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